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Great New DVD Releases: Clear Eyes, Crafty Killers, Flying Squirrels
August 17, 2010  | By David Bianculli

This week's batch of new releases of TV shows on DVD includes an absurdly entertaining triple helping of great shows, and the range couldn't be more eclectic. Coincidentally, they're all Season Four releases - of NBC/DirecTV's Friday Night Lights, Showtime's Dexter, and the classic Rocky & Bullwinkle adventures...


Season four of Friday Night Lights (Universal Home Video, 3 discs) is the season we almost didn't get to see, until NBC made a deal with DirecTV to split costs. The satellite service got the better end of the deal, and got to televise all 13 episodes before NBC began showing them. Consequently, NBC showed the finale of season four only 11 days ago -- yet here it is, available on DVD beginning today.

Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, both up for Emmys this year (for the first time!), star as Eric and Tami Taylor, a high-school football coach and his high-school principal wife, living in a small, football-obsessed Texas town. Friday Night Lights is one of the best family drama series ever made, and the performances by the young supporting cast are strong enough to almost rival the award-worthy portrayals by the show's starring couple.

Coach Taylor's motto, to inspire his gritty pack of gridiron players, is an encouraging mantra for life as well as sport: "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose." If you buy this set, you can't lose, either. You can order it HERE.


(And remember, if you order through Amazon, via these supplied TV WORTH WATCHING links, we get a small but much-appreciated percentage of the purchase price, and of anything else you buy during that visit. Costs you nothing more. Helps us stay alive.)

Season four of Dexter (CBS/Showtime, 4 discs) is the most recent one, featuring John Lithgow in a ultra-creepy, season-long guest arc as a serial murderer who, like Michael C. Hall's Dexter, hides in plain sight. All 12 episode are here, including the cliffhanger ending that will thrust Dexter into a new orbit when the show returns on Showtime Sept. 26.

Dexter is one of TV's best shows right now, and certainly one of its most unusual. Order it HERE. Or on Blu-Ray HERE.

Finally, there's a blast from the much more distant past. The "Rocky & Bullwinkle" cartoons by Jay Ward Studios, shown on TV in prime time in the late 1950s and early 1960s, have been repackaged (and retitled) by Classic Media, in season-long compilations. Originally from The Bullwinkle Show, this fourth season (Classic Media, 2 discs) collection, called Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends, includes Rocky the flying squirrel, Bullwinkle the talking moose, cold-war spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, and so much more... "Fractured Fairy Tales," Sherman and Mr. Peabody's time travels, and... oh, just buy it.


I was in my 20s before I learned that there was an opera, by Mussorgsky, named Boris Godunov, based on a real-life Russian Tsar. I've never quite looked at Boris Badenov -- or Bullwinkle -- the same way since. If possible, I adore them even more.

For the timeless, peerless season four frivolity, you can order it HERE.

Three great TV series. Three great DVD releases, all on the same day. Boy, I love 21st-century technology...




Mac said:

A five year wait between Bullwinkle season 3 & 4,but it's finally here,and not too expensive. I suspect this one is not close captioned so my wife cannot enjoy the puns,but it does include a favorite,The Treasure of Monte Zoom.,so Santa,please,pretty please. I find somethig new to laugh when watching Bullwinkle. At long last I'm old enough to get all of the adult humor and enough of an old fart to know the historical references and cold war humor. Look out,Grandkids,Grandpop has new 'toons coming. Thanks to executive producer,Ponsonby Britt,for all of his hard work in restoring these shows.
[And, as I'm sure you know -- you are VERY informed -- Posonby was a fictional creation of Jay Ward and partner Bill Scott, who put Posonby's name in the credits because... well, just because. -- David B.]

Comment posted on August 17, 2010 5:35 PM

Curtis said:

When I was a kid in the late fifties, seven or eight years old, I used to watch Rocky and Bullwinkle on channel six NBC affiliate WRGB in Schenectady, NY. It was on every weekday for fifteen minutes from five-fifteen to five-thirty. At that time it was called "Rocky the Flying Squirrel (and his pal, Bullwinkle the Moose)." There would be one episode of the running storyline, a bumper ("Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!"), a commercial break and then one of the other features like Fractured Fairy Tales, Mr. Peabody and Sherman or Dudley Do-Right.

In the time slot before Rocky was the Freddie Freihoffer Show featuring Uncle Jim Fisk. Freihoffers was a big regional bakery that made great chocolate chip cookies. But I remember not watching the show very often because it was creepy. Freddie was a stuffed rabbit, Jim was his buddy. There was a live studio audience of kids ala Howdy Doody. Jim would bring the birthday kid up, sit him on his lap and chat, then the kid would scribble on a big pad and Jim would turn it into some kind of coherent picture while telling a story. You would never be able to do a show like that now.

I may be wrong but it seems like Jay Ward repackaged the Rocky shows in a half hour format and sold them to ABC in the sixties as "Rocky and His Friends," and then re-repackaged them as "Bullwinkle the Moose." And after that, "The Dudley Do-Right Show." I didn't watch these shows because I had already seen a lot of them. How else could I know that Bullwinkle could remember everything he ever ate?

Comment posted on August 18, 2010 10:22 AM

Mac said:

Yes,David I'm aware that Mr. Britt is fictitious. But part of all the fun about this show is that I didn't know for years. In fact,it's possible I didn't have that confirmed till my internet travels started 10 years ago. I mean,I couldn't find this guy doing anything else but Jay Ward stuff,but,maybe he could have been some cereal company executive that funded Mr. Ward. Speaking of Jay Ward,www.cartoonresearch.com(where anyone can get real smart about 'toons real fast)mentioned that Quaker Oats is currently using original Ward art work of Cap'n Crunch retro cereal boxes. Now,if only that whistle was available. And,unfortunately,the cereal is possibly still the junkiest one out there.

Comment posted on August 19, 2010 3:57 PM
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